The heat wave moving across the country has already claimed 66 lives in Telangana. The state's disaster management authority announced on Wednesday said that Mahbubnagar had the highest number of casualties from sunstroke, recording 28 deaths. Heat-related deaths were also reported from Medak, Nizamabad, Khammam, Karimnagar and Warangal.
The MET department had issued heat alerts Andhra Pradesh and Telangana on Tuesday, as temperatures rise to five and six degrees above normal. Parts of Telangana received light rain but meteorologists say that it is only temporary respite with the searing heat set to return in an couple of days and last longer.
A met official told The Hindu that while there were 13 heat wave days across Andhra Pradesh and Telangana last year, the two states could expect to see double the number of such days this year. Some parts of the region could see temperatures rise above 48 degree Celsius. Last year's heat wave claimed more than 2,000 across India, a third of those casualties in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
The heat wave that has been hovering over central and peninsular India is shifting east to Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand. Temperatures in parts of these states have crossed 43 degree Celsius and are not expected to drop over the next 48 hours, according to private weather forecaster Skymet.
Whose drought is it anyway?
The Supreme Court on Wednesday tore into the central government for not doing enough to help drought-affected areas in nine states. The court was hearing a petition filed by NGO Swaraj Abhiyan. The court had, on Monday, directed the government to provide free foodgrains and employment under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act to people hurt by drought.
At the same time, the Bombay High Court has pulled up the Maharashtra Cricket Association for carrying on with its plans for the Indian Premier League and for the use of copious amounts of water to prepare cricket pitches while parts of the state are reeling from drought. While calling it a "criminal wastage" of water, the court suggested that matches scheduled to be held in Maharashtra be shifted to other less water-stressed parts of the country.
Here are some example of how bad Marathwada has it. “We are getting water supply once in 20 days and taking a bath even once a week is a luxury,” said Manik Kadam, a resident of Parbhani town and a farm activist told reporters with the Mint.
In Beed and Latur, jail authorities are drawing up contingency plans to move prisoners from the water-scarce districts to Nashik and Dhule, even as prohibitory orders to prevent violence have been imposed for a month in water supply spots of Parbhani.
And in Madhya Pradesh, the police are taking charge of filling pots to avoid water wars.
In Rajkot, Gujarat city councillors stormed into the office of the mayor to protest the unavailability of drinking water for the past two days. The Times of India reported that households in the city are currently getting drinking water supply of only 20 minutes every day. A municipal corporation official told the paper the the city was getting only 190 million litres-200 million litres of Narmada water per day instead of the usual 220 million litres.
The price of an extreme summer
Workers at the Renault Nissan factory at Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu are demanding a heat allowance similar to harship allowances that are sometimes paid to people who work in hostile environments. Meanwhile, the heat and drought has sapped rural Maharashtra's appetite for entertainment by local theatre troupes. The traveling tamasha groups that earn a living during this season by performing dances and dramas in different villages have seen their booking fall by 40 percent, leading to monetary losses and difficulties in paying for performers and equipment.